In the pre-market on Friday, U.S. index futures are showing mixed behavior, reflecting investors’ caution. The focus is on the awaited Producer Price Index (PPI) report, marking the second major inflation report of the week. The anticipation surrounding the start of the fourth-quarter financial results season is also on the radar, as it offers crucial insights into corporate health in a challenging economic period.

At 05:23 AM, Dow Jones futures (DOWI:DJI) rose 56 points, or 0.15%. S&P 500 futures fell 0.01% and Nasdaq-100 futures retreated 0.16%. The yield on 10-year Treasury bonds was at 3.975%.

In the commodities market, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for February rose 3.24% to $72.35 per barrel. Brent crude oil for March rose 3.04%, near $79.76 per barrel. Iron ore with 62% concentration, traded on the Dalian exchange, closed down at approximately $133.42 per metric ton.

On Friday’s economic agenda, the day starts at 08:30 AM with the release of the December Producer Price Index (PPI). At 11:00 AM, investors await the participation of Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, in an event. Finally, at 1:00 PM, Baker Hughes data on operational oil wells in the U.S. will be released.

European markets are showing an optimistic scenario, with the Stoxx 600 up 0.9% and all sectors rising. Construction, media, and retail stocks stand out, with increases above 1.3%. Despite this, Burberry (LSE:BRBY) faced difficulties, with a significant drop following a profit warning due to reduced demand, negatively impacting other luxury brands. Meanwhile, the UK economy showed resilience, growing 0.3% in November, mainly driven by the services sector, exceeding economists’ expectations.

Asian markets showed a downward trend, impacted by China’s first annual drop in exports in seven years. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.61% and China’s CSI 300 dropped 0.35%, closing at 3,284.17. Despite this, Japanese stocks, including the Nikkei 225 and Topix, reached their highest levels since 1990, continuing their record recovery. South Korea’s Kospi also fell, while Australia’s ASX 200 saw a slight decline.

Thursday’s session in the U.S. stock market was marked by an impressive recovery in the second half of the day. After an initial drop in the morning, driven by the analysis of the Department of Labor’s inflation report, the indices recovered, closing almost stable. The Dow Jones, which had fallen 270 points, closed up 15.29 points, or 0.04%, at 37,711.02 points. The S&P 500 fell 0.07%, closing at 4,780.24 points. The Nasdaq closed stable at 14,970.19 points. The report indicated a higher-than-expected rise in consumer prices, initially raising concerns. However, the expectation of an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve in March, indicating a 70% probability suggested by the CME Group’s FedWatch tool, appears to have influenced the market’s recovery. Despite this, sectors sensitive to interest rates, such as utilities and natural gas, remained weak, contrasting with the strength in sectors like software and oil.

On the quarterly earnings front this Friday, major banks like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup (NYSE:C), as well as Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK), BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), and Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) are scheduled to present their financial reports.

Wall Street Corporate Highlights for Today

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) – On Thursday, Microsoft briefly surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable company for the first time since 2021, due to Apple’s stock performance at the start of the year, affected by concerns about demand. Microsoft’s shares rose due to investments in generative artificial intelligence, such as OpenAI. Microsoft closed with a market valuation of $2.859 trillion, while Apple closed at $2.886 trillion.

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) – Alphabet’s Google Cloud announced that it will not charge network fees for data transfer when switching to another cloud provider, in contrast to practices by others, such as Microsoft Azure (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ:AMZN). This change aims to facilitate migration, but licensing issues remain. In other news, an adviser to the EU’s top court recommended that the $2.7 billion fine imposed on Alphabet’s Google unit for antitrust practices in 2017 be upheld. The fine was for favoring its price comparison service. The final decision will be made in the coming months.

Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) – Mark Zuckerberg is redirecting Meta’s focus to artificial intelligence (AI) following challenges faced with the metaverse. The company, which lost market value with the metaverse, now sees AI as a priority to drive innovation and revenue. Meta is standing out with AI projects and adopting open-source approaches to attract developers.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) – Amazon is laying off 5% of the staff at Audible, its audiobook and podcast division, as part of broader cuts at the company. The CEO of Audible stated that these decisions aim to strengthen the business in the long term.

DocuSign (NASDAQ:DOCU) – Bain Capital (NYSE:BCSF) and Hellman & Friedman are competing to acquire DocuSign, valued at around $12.5 billion, in one of the largest leveraged acquisitions of 2024. Blackstone (NYSE:BX), previously involved, is no longer in the race. The company reported an adjusted quarterly profit of 79 cents per share and revenue of $700.4 million.

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) – Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios is planning job cuts due to overstaffing following the completion of some productions, although the exact number of layoffs has not been determined. Disney is seeking to control costs and license third-party content. Last June, Pixar eliminated 75 positions, but the company continues to produce successful films, such as “Elemental”.

AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans meetings with AT&T and Verizon to assess the impact of lead-containing telecommunications cables. Initial tests do not indicate urgent threats, but the EPA continues investigating. AT&T and Verizon claim the cables pose no significant public health risks.

ABB Ltd (NYSE:ABB) – ABB acquired Swiss company Sevensense, specializing in improving the mobility of industrial robots with AI and 3D vision. This acquisition reflects the growing interest in autonomous industrial robots. Sevensense’s technology gives robots eyes and brains to navigate factories. The autonomous mobile robot (AMR) market is expected to grow 20% annually until 2026, according to ABB.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), BP (NYSE:BP) – Shares were up in pre-market due to rising oil prices following a U.S.-led coalition’s attacks on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen.

Hertz (NASDAQ:HTZ) – Hertz is selling about 20,000 electric vehicles, including Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) units, from its U.S. fleet, opting for combustion vehicles due to high expenses related to electric vehicle damage. The decision reflects challenges faced by the electric vehicle industry as sales slow and the hidden costs of owning an EV become apparent. The company plans to improve the profitability of the rest of its EV fleet and faces depreciation-related charges from EV sales in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) – Tesla will suspend most production at its factory near Berlin from January 29 to February 11 due to supply issues caused by attacks on ships in the Red Sea. This disruption may affect other automakers, highlighting vulnerabilities in the automotive supply chain. Additionally, Tesla reduced prices for the Model 3 and Model Y made in China on January 12, as available on the company’s website.

Polestar Automotive (NASDAQ:PSNY) – Polestar Automotive, an electric vehicle startup, reported delivering approximately 12,800 cars in the last quarter, resulting in a global increase of 6% in deliveries compared to the previous year, totaling about 54,600 cars.

Stellantis (NYSE:STLA) – Stellantis revealed on Friday its investment in the French sodium-ion battery startup Tiamat as part of an initial €150 million fundraising. This partnership aims to expand electric vehicle production and reduce dependence on scarce resources, including building a battery factory in northern France. Tiamat, founded in 2017, promises competitive batteries without lithium, using more abundant sodium. Although they offer less range, their batteries are more affordable and have fast charging, aligning with Stellantis’ sustainable goals for 2038.

Boeing (NYSE:BA), Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK) – The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an official investigation following an incident on an Alaska Airlines flight. The FAA has grounded 171 MAX jets with the same issue, impacting both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL). Boeing and the FAA have ended negotiations over revised inspections without an agreement. Confidence in the aircraft manufacturer has been shaken, with growing concerns about quality control.

Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes (NYSE:GOL) – Gol, the Brazilian airline, stresses the importance of assessing quality issues in the aviation industry and implementing risk mitigation plans following the incident with the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9. The company believes that quality evaluation and improvement are necessary across the industry, with FAA audit processes to prevent future problems. Gol operates MAX 8 aircraft and is awaiting certification for the MAX 10.

United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) – United Airlines, already dealing with flight cancellations due to regulatory issues with its Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets, reported that it diverted its flight 2434 from Sarasota to Chicago to Tampa International Airport due to a potential mechanical issue in an Airbus A319. The plane landed safely, resolved the issue, and continued its flight.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) – Morgan Stanley is close to an agreement to pay less than $500 million to settle a government investigation into its practices in large stock sales trading. No criminal charges against the bank are expected as part of the settlement. The investigation relates to block trades conducted by the bank on behalf of clients. The penalty will be split between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). James Gorman, the former CEO, will remain as executive chairman during a transition to his successor, Ted Pick, who will deal with the investigation.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) – Citigroup Research has lowered its Brent oil price forecasts for 2024 by $1, now predicting $74 per barrel, and for 2025 by $10.00, reaching $60 per barrel, due to concerns about oversupply. However, they expect prices to remain above $70 per barrel in 2024, due to the global market balance maintained by OPEC+. Citi predicts that OPEC+ will suspend production cuts in 2024 and start reducing them only in the second half of 2025, due to a possible surplus of 1.2 million barrels per day in global oil markets.

UBS (NYSE:UBS) – UBS has appointed Gail Kelly, an Australian financial executive, to its board of directors, highlighting her experience in banking mergers. Kelly, who was a global senior advisor to UBS from 2016 to 2023, successfully led the merger of St George Bank and Westpac Bank Corporation in Australia in 2008. Additionally, UBS’s longest-serving director, Dieter Wemmer, will resign after eight years on the board.

Coinbase Global (NASDAQ:COIN) – Shares of Coinbase experienced a volatile day in the previous session following the SEC’s approval of Bitcoin ETFs. Some analysts see this as a positive boost, predicting that Coinbase will benefit as the custodian for most of these funds, while others are concerned about competition with ETFs and their impact on Coinbase’s business.

Smith Douglas Homes (NYSE:SDHC) – Shares of Smith Douglas Homes rose 14% on their first trading day, ending the debut on the New York Stock Exchange at $24 per share, above the IPO price of $21 per share, raising about $161 million. The company is a rapidly growing residential homebuilder focusing on starter and empty homes in Southern United States metropolitan areas.

Grifols (NASDAQ:GRFS) – Grifols has assured investors that the sale of its stake in Shanghai RAAS for $1.8 billion will proceed as planned, despite a drop in shares following a report by Gotham City Research questioning its accounting.

Cytokinetics (NASDAQ:CYTK) – Cytokinetics experienced a 16% drop on Thursday due to news that Novartis (NYSE:NVS), a Swiss pharmaceutical giant, was backing off its attempt to acquire the heart drug development company. Novartis was close to finalizing the purchase of Cytokinetics, as reported on Monday, with a deal expected within the same week. In pre-market trading, Cytokinetics’ shares fell another 0.5%.

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) – CVS Health Corp. will close pharmacies in Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) stores starting in February, seeking to reduce stores and focus on healthcare services due to falling pharmacy profits. The closures will affect dozens of pharmacies, with prescriptions transferred to nearby locations. Employees will receive comparable job offers.

Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST) – The opening of Costco’s first store in southern China attracted crowds, with long lines of customers waiting hours to enter. The rise of thrifty shopping due to China’s economic slowdown was evident, with popular items including fruits, bread, meat, seafood, and Disney toys. As Chinese consumers become more selective due to the economic crisis, global brands compete for middle-class customers with smaller wallets.

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